Out of the Kenyan Mud, an Ancient Climate Record

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Science  02 Aug 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6145, pp. 476-479
DOI: 10.1126/science.341.6145.476

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On a cold spring day in early 2013, a dozen researchers gathered in a small lab at the University of Minnesota to analyze 190 meters of mud, sand, and gravel cored last year from what they hoped was once a lakebed 20 kilometers from an important archaeological site, Olorgesailie in Kenya's Great Rift Valley. As they split, studied, and sampled this core, they realized it resolved into thousands of distinctive layers, each representing a different climate regime. They hope it goes back 500,000 years and will help them test ideas about the role of climate variability in human evolution, by getting a continuous record of climate indicators from a place where hominins lived and died.